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Banned Books Week

Newsletter, Sep 23rd 2022

This week (Sept 18-24) was Banned Books Week. Started in the 80's, it is an annual celebration of freedom to read. Several area bookstores had amazing displays put out in honor of this week. I didn't explicitly create anything, partly because most of the books I carry are not controversial, and also because I believe, as Ray Bradbury put it - “The problem in our country isn't with books being banned, but with people no longer reading”. While today's book banning targets are most commonly ones with LGBTQIA+ characters or references to racial justice, it is instructive to look at lists of books that have been banned at various times, by various groups. A very short list of previously banned books I have read and benefited from - Fahrenheit 451, Catch-22, 1984, Lorax, Giving Tree, Handmaid's Tale, A wrinkle in time, To kill a mockingbird. I can't imagine a world where these ideas are not freely flowing and I am not allowed to read what I like. On the flip side, I have recently struggled with books that spread misinformation on Covid and vaccines in general, books denying the big bang or evolution. While I have the right to decide whether to carry those books, I would not advocate banning them or preventing people from reading those if they so choose. Go ahead, Read Dangerously!

Upcoming Events:

  • Tonight 9/23 5p Kids 6-10 will learn to build their first robot and program it! Looking forward.

  • Sunday 9/25 1p - AI and Art - We have already raised over $300 for CodeSavvy. My personal goal was $500 - can we make it? If you're thinking about it, register now! It's bound to be fun and you'll learn something new.

  • Saturday 10/1 3p - Jayshree Seth - We do not have enough registrations for this one and may have to cancel the event. Please sign up if you're interested! It's not often we get to meet a celebrity of this caliber, in person, in a small group setting!

Ongoing Events:

  • Sunday Oct 9th 2p - next meeting for the Science Book club for 16+ - we're reading The Immense World by Ed Yong. We will also be picking out our next book at this meeting. Join us if you want a say.

  • Sunday Oct 16th 4p - next meeting for the Kids 7-11 age group - we're reading The Last Mapmaker by Christina Soontornvat

Future Events to watch out for:

  • Matheatre's Math Musical - Oct 15th

  • Virtual event with Christina Soontornvat - Oct 18th

  • In person Author event with Catstronaut author Drew Brockington - Oct 22nd

  • Standup Comedy on Halloween and Monsters with Matt Kesson - Oct 28th

  • The Thinking Spot - 1 year Birthday Party!!! - Nov 25th

Science News of the Week

  1. If you haven't seen it already, here's another stunning image from JWST - this time of Neptune and it's rings. Did you know too that it was on this day in 1846 that Neptune was first discovered. What is fascinating is that they didn't just use telescopes but used a lot of Math to figure out the location!

  2. Also a reminder to watch for DART smashing into the asteroid moon on Monday. NASA will be live streaming the images on NASA TV starting at 1:30 PM central.

Book Recommendations

There have been so many cool new picture books out this month and I haven't done a kids book rec in a while, so today's list is a pick of some of my favorite nonfiction new releases for Ages 3-12. Would make great gifts for those curious minds. Enjoy!

Happy reading, don't let the Book Bans Bite and see you at The Spot soon,


New Children's Picture Books

Do Trees Have Mothers?

By Charles Bongers

Ages 3-5

A wonder-filled picture book inspired by the science of trees. With whimsical art and gentle text, Do Trees Have Mothers? translates scientific knowledge about the kinship structures of the forest into a beautiful and affirming story about how trees nurture the young. Discover all the ways in which a mother tree protects and nourishes the baby trees of the forest understory, and show young children what it means to care for a community, and for our environment and the earth. Did you know that mother trees help seedlings survive by transferring carbon and nitrogen through the mycorrhizal network? They can even warn baby trees when there are troublesome bugs about! Drawing from scientific research, Do Trees Have Mothers? is The Hidden Life of Trees (Greystone, 2016) and Finding the Mother Tree (Penguin Random House, 2021) for the preschool set. The perfect book for budding nature lovers, this book introduces the forest’s complex and fascinating wonders in a friendly and age-appropriate way.

Charles Bongers has had alifelong passion for nature and the outdoors as a world-class sailor, mountainclimber and tree advocate. He is the founder and creative director of CharlesBongers + Co., an eco-focused, brand design company, based in Toronto. Charlesalso serves as creative advisor to Wild Entrust/Coaching Conservation, awildlife conservation trust in Southern Africa, and to Woodfield True NatureCampus, a nature-focused retreat dedicated to supporting families experiencingchronic illness. Born in Cape Town, South Africa, Charles now lives in Toronto.

Sneaky Shadows

By S.C. Manchild

Ages 3-6

Shortlisted for the Russell Prize for Humour Writing for Young People

Shortlisted for Speech Pathology Book of the Year

"Kids will love trying to guess what the shadows really are and will be delighted when the authors out-silly them every time." Readings

Sneaky Shadows uniquely showcases the limitless possibilities of shadow casting in a book of imaginative, absurd misdirection. Its humor, pace and timing will have young audiences on their toes with anticipation, as the bizarre scenarios of author SC Manchild unfold.

This is cheeky, laugh-out-loud fun that inspires repeated readings from children (and parents!) of all ages.

SC Manchild is the CEO of an international company, using a pen-name so that his governing board may not discover his penchant for funny picture books. He lives in Melbourne and his favourite part of the day is reading to his children at bedtime. Sneaky Shadows is his debut book. Sam Caldwell is a children’s illustrator and designer based in Glasgow. He likes to draw characters and tell stories with pictures. He grew up in the north of England and studied painting at the Edinburgh College of Art.

Superpowers of Nature

By Georges Feterman

Ages 6-9

Superpowers of Nature is a fascinating, quirky photographic book featuring the amazing superpowers in the animal kingdom. With incredible photos and fascinating text, this book is a celebration of biodiversity and nature. From the platypus to the peregrine falcon, find out all about these amazing animals and the extraordinary abilities that make them the superheroes of our planet. For example:

  • An octopus's brain is distributed all over its body

  • The tropical frog causes potential predators to wretch violently

  • The plumed basilisk can run for its life on water!

For each animal discover their superpower, super stats and super facts about them, as well as information about how they used their super skills in the wild. With an important message about protecting the rich biodiversity of our planet, Superpowers of Nature is a stunning photographic book for kids fascinated by the animal kingdom and the weird wonders it has to offer. This book is from the Animal Powers series, which celebrates the weird, extraordinary, and truly amazing powers of some of nature's most incredible animals, while celebrating biodiversity and encouraging young readers to value the natural world around them. Also available is Superheroes of Nature, which showcases the true heroes of the animal kingdom.

Georges Feterman is an associate professor of natural sciences. He is also the president of the association "A.R.B.R.E.S. "(Remarkable Trees, Assessment, Research, Studies and Safeguarding) campaigning for in-depth research on remarkable trees. For twenty years, he has been recording and photographing the most remarkable subjects of the French natural heritage because of their proportions, stories or rarity.


By Sarah C. Campbell

Ages 7-10

What is infinity? Explore this fascinating and complex math concept and its purpose in our world in this picture book that both demystifies and explains. Perfect for kids who grew up on Baby University books like Quantum Physics for Babies. Defining infinity is difficult. But there is one thing people do every day that leads to infinity—counting. No matter what large number you name, there is always a larger number. By reading this book, kids can begin to think about this and other powerful ideas involving infinity, including how infinity relates to rocket science. Featuring clear text and beautiful photographs, this is an excellent choice for kids who want to delve deeper into math and science and for those ready to look at the world in a new way.

Sarah C. Campbell is the author of the Geisel Honor Book, Wolfsnail, as well as Growing Patterns and Mysterious Patterns, co-created with her husband Richard P. Campbell. Visit Richard P. Campbell is co-photographer with his wife Sarah C. Campbell of the acclaimed children's nonfiction books Wolfsnail, Growing Patterns, and Mysterious Patterns, as well as the photographer of some of the photos in Infinity.

The Power of Architecture

By Annette Roeder

Ages 8-12

From private residences to affordable housing, stadiums to factories, museums to libraries— this book takes young readers across continents to learn how architecture is improving the world one building at a time. Although popular culture and classrooms are filled with references to classic and iconic buildings such as the Parthenon, the Cathedral of Notre Dame, and the Great Pyramids, there are equally valuable lessons to be learned from modern architecture, and especially from buildings situated in Global South and among underrepresented populations. This beautifully illustrated book investigates how contemporary architects from a variety of cultures are addressing issues of climate change, income inequality, and limited resources by designing buildings that are as innovative as they are beautiful. Each building is presented in a double-page spread featuring Pamela Baron’s exquisitely detailed illustrations that highlight the design, natural surroundings, and the people who live, work, or play there. Annette Roeder’s pitch-perfect text outlines the structure’s unique contribution to the field of architecture, and invites readers to wonder aloud why the building works and to find out more about it. A perfect stepping stone for designers in the making, this book also teaches kids how architecture can help the people it shelters and the planet on which it is built.

ANNETTE ROEDER is an architect and illustrator and author of numerous children’s books as well as novels for adults. She lives with her family on the outskirts of Munich, Germany. PAMELA BARON is a watercolor illustrator who has a special love of architecture. She lives in a breezy town outside of San Francisco with her husband and twenty-one miniature fruit trees.

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